Well, it only took 3 years, but here at last is a post for the previously neglected ‘Memorable Melodies’ category, taking a glance over some of Bollywood’s greatest song sequences. Here, I’ve decided to heap much praise upon 10 of those magnificently mental rock ‘n’ roll numbers found only during the 60s and early 70s, when The Twist stayed alive and well in India long after Chubby Checker’s version had become passé in the West. If you happen to have seen director Terry Zwigoff’s wonderful 2001 comedy Ghost World, you’ll doubtless already have a clear indication of what to expect thanks to the film’s opening sequence, which is intercut with footage from one of Hindi cinema’s absolute wildest song-and-dance sequences. So what better place to start than with…
1. ‘Jaan Pehchaan Ho’ from Gumnaam (1965, Music by Shankar-Jaikishan)
Featuring enough violent hip and head-shakin’ to reduce any normal human being into a state of braincell-battered exhaustion, this Batman-on-Acid-style rocker features Laxmi Chhaya leading the pack, while choreographer Herman Benjamin lip-syncs to singer Mohammed Rafi’s frenetic vocals. Chhaya, despite her B-grade actress label, was nonetheless an incredibly energetic dancer who seemed to be constantly on the verge of giving herself whiplash thanks to her epileptic fit-esque moves.
Holy seizure! Laxmi Chhaya goes batty in 1965’s Gumnaam
2. ‘Aao Twist Kare’ from Bhoot Bungla (1965, Music by R.D. Burman)
Bolly comedy king Mehmood steals some thunder in a song competition from a none-too-impressed Tanuja, who has just delivered a heartfelt balled and now must sit and watch as the crowd goes mad for this hugely fun ‘Let’s Do The Twist’-inspired number.
Mehmood twists in 1965’s spooky comedy Bhoot Bungla
3. ‘Tumse Hai Dil Ko Pyaar’ from Janwar (1965, Music by Shankar-Jaikishan)
More plagiarism hijinks as Bollywood’s answer to Elvis, Shammi Kapoor, dons a Beatles wig and treats his leading lady Rajshree to a Hindi rendition of ‘I Want To Hold Your Hand’. If this doesn’t warm the cockles of your heart, I must be forced to suggest that you have no soul.
Wacky wigs and demented dancing galore in 1965’s Janwar
4. ‘Tu Mera Main Teri’ from Pyar Hi Pyar (1969, Music by Shankar-Jaikishan)
It’s wall-to-wall hooks as classically-trained dancer Vyjayanthimala gets a rare chance to let loose (well, in a shyly restrained kinda way) in a full-on surf pop number as Dharmendra seeks her affections with little success, despite some enthusiastic fake guitar and trumpet playing.
Dharmendra blows while Vyjayanthimala boogies in 1969’s Pyar Hi Pyar
5. ‘Leja Leja’ from An Evening In Paris (1967, Music by Shankar-Jaikishan)
“My name is Suzie!”, ever so seductively coos the gobsmackingly beautiful Sharmila Tagore to kick of this fashion nightmare and musical dream of a sequence set to the tune of The Shadows’ ‘Man Of Mystery’. Check out über villain Pran’s bronze wig!
Pran gets an eyeful of Sharmila Tagore in 1967’s An Evening In Paris
6. ‘Tum Haseen Main Jawan’ from Tum Haseen Main Jawan (1970, Music by Shankar-Jaikishan)
More crazy hairpieces highlight this one that sees cutie Hema Malini sport a glittery blue mop on her noggin while snuggling up to future husband Dharmendra as some groovy sitar interludes break up the rock ‘n’ roll. Oh, and there’s dancing sailors and sailorettes aplenty.
“Care to find out if it’s my natural colour?” 1970’s Tum Haseen Main Jawan
7. ‘Pretty Pretty Priya’ from Priya (1970, Music by Kalyanji-Anandji)
Tanuja plays the pretty Priya and she doesn’t seem quite sure what to make of the Beatles sound-a-like band that’s performing this terrific track named after her. Meanwhile, her boyfriend played by Sanjeev Kumar struggles to stay awake in the background. The old bore.
She is very pretty: Tanuja in 1970’s Priya
8. ‘Kehne Ki Nahin Baat’ from Pyar Kiye Jaa (1966, Music by Laxmikant-Pyarelal)
Shashi Kapoor and his pals have been screwed over by their crooked boss and so start up a protest outside his house. But rather than employ violence, the gang instead decide to dance up a storm to get the old guy’s attention! Shashi’s moves really are quite extraordinary.
Scary! Shashi Kapoor and friends protest in 1966’s Pyar Kiye Jaa
9. ‘Aaja Aaja’ from Teesri Manzil (1966, Music by R.D. Burman)
Shammi’s back on the scene and he’s having trouble persuading the quirky Asha Parekh to bust a move with him on the dancefloor. She soon relents though and, before you know it, they’re shaking both of their ample rumps for all their worth in this orgasmic rocker that literally translates as “Come! Come!”
Shammi and Asha reach a climax in 1966’s Teesri Manzil
10. ‘O Meri Maina’ from Pyar Kiye Jaa (1966, Music by Laxmikant-Pyarelal)
Finishing with a personal favourite of mine that features Mehmood alongside the gorgeous, delightful and charismatic Mumtaz, both of whom are entertaining a seated Shashi Kapoor, who’s keeping the needle from skipping on a record as the other two dance like a pair of looneys to the music. “Aye-yai-yo!”
I love Bollywood. Mumtaz and Mehmood in 1966’s Pyar Kiye Jaa
YouTube videos are available for all of the above clips by clicking on the pictures and were working at the time of posting, though some may well have been taken down in the meantime by company grumps who’d rather we didn’t watch them in this fashion - i.e. for free.